Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle last week signed a law that allows universities and charitable organizations more leeway in dipping into their endowments.

In the past, nonprofit schools under state law could not tap their endowments when they fell below their original level due to investment losses. Under the change, nonprofits can now use endowment funds at their discretion.

Universities and others that hold endowments pushed for the change on the argument that it is during tough economic times that endowments are most beneficial in helping supplement operations and offset cuts.

While some people raised concerns that the change gives organizations too much freedom, the state attorney general can intercede if a nonprofit entity is believed to be acting irresponsibly.

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